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Monday, July 15, 2013

'Rick Springfield Documentary 'An Affair of the Heart:' I Believe You Better Call Him Mister Tonight

Reviewing tributes, such as the Blu-ray version of the Rick Springfield documentary "An Affair of the Heart" that is being released tomorrow, to pop stars presents a challenge. Not sharing the strong devotion to said American (or Australian) Idol as the ardent fans who are the target audience places some poor scribes in the tough spot of wanting to be fair but simply not understanding the super-human appeal of these musicians to those who would sell their first-born for one-on-one time.

In all fairness, non-Trekkers require an explanation regarding why I always say "everyone remember where we parked" when we arrive somewhere in a car or why I declare that "fun will now commence" at the beginning of an outing. I confess as well that I would consider sacrificing a kidney for an hour with Leonard Nimoy.

Personal experience in the world of "Ricksters" dates back to October 2008  I had selected Springfield's awesomely psychedelic 1973 Saturday morning cartoon "Mission Magic!," which remains a favorite, as a subject for one of my first DVD reviews.

That entry included a heavy dose of teasing Springfield and prompted record-breaking angry email. It truly seemed that I had blasphemed a genuine Australian god of the same caliber as "The Almighty Johnsons."

Along those lines, I warn hard-core Ricksters that you may not like my treatment of "Heart" much better. 

As an aside, my love of "Mission Magic!" earns me the honor of being one of Springfield's earliest fans. His theme song, which is provided via the following You Tube link, truly is a great tune and goes along well with the incredibly trippy opening credits.

Before moving onto sharing thoughts regarding "Heart," it is also worth mentioning that dreamy teen idol Springfield was set to replace the equally dreamy teen idol David Cassidy as Keith Partridge in the '70s sitcom "The Partridge Family" if that show had aired a fifth season. Seeing footage of Springfield as Keith and watching him rock out with co-star Shirley Jones would be incredible.

Sharing a reasonable standard for evaluating documentaries helps provide additional perspective regarding "Heart." An outstanding documentary does an exceptional job both informing and entertaining. Films of that caliber  include "Super Size Me," "Journeys With George," "Gasland," and many episodes of the PBS series "Independent Lens" and "POV."

"Heart" is a well-produced film that simply is not as compelling or insightful as anticipated. At the same time, it has won several film festival awards.

"Heart" differs from many behind-the-scenes looks at the lifestyles of rock and pop gods in that it focuses on Springfield's fans and their relationships with their favorite mate from down under. The Jersey soccer moms, the 14 year-old aspiring rock god, and the two women who found great comfort in Springfield's music during separate hard times that would break many of us are moderately interesting but still leave audience members wondering exactly how Springfield has "it."

Additionally, we see Springfield showing his fans kindness but do not get a sense that he goes much more above and beyond than other celebrities. Springfield providing the soccer moms with surprise turn-down service is entertaining, and preparing the teen rocker to perform with him is very kind. At the same time, this largely seems to go along with the territory of being a celeb.

Not getting the level of insight into Springfield that might have led to become at least a junior Rickster, rather than a casual fan, was disappointing. One does not even learn whether the point is probably moot regarding why Springfield shares Matthew Mcconaughey's fondness for taking off his shirt.

There was also almost no discussion regarding what inspired Springfield's hits or his 21st century comeback.

Learning of Springfield's history of severe depression provided some insight into his more recent work, but even learning that he was a world-class working class horndog did not explain his apparent infatuation with his bro's woman. We also never got any sense of the apparently one-sided relationship that inspired another of Springfield's hits.

At least people know that Carly Simon dated an extremely egotistical man and that a "Full House" star likely wished that Alanis Morisette would have "cut it out."

The only discussion of Springfield's television career, which included a heavily publicized comeback story arc on the Brooke Shields '90s sitcom "Suddenly Susan," was limited to two brief mentions of his '80s stint on the soap "General Hospital."

Children of the '70s would have enjoyed hearing about "Mission Magic!" and "The Partridge Family," neither of which were mentioned, and discussing that era of Springfield's life would have provided younger fans more insight into their idol. 

Other neglected topics included the efforts to induct Springfield into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and why he uses his guitar as a "deflowering" tool.

The bottom line is that Springfield largely seems to be following a policy of not talking to strangers. Millions of us who are still somewhat isolated from him are here anytime that he opts to open up. We will make our best efforts to be funny and cool with the lines when it is our time to respond.

Anyone who wants to share his or her thoughts regarding this review is welcome to email me. I remind the Ricksters out there who disagree with my views of the rubber and glue rule.